(Posted 2:30 p.m., Dec. 15)
Stock Christmas play touches on city's rich hockey heritage
By Fred Sherwin
I Want For Christmas' is Vintage Stock Theatre's second bilingual
play staged at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. Fred
long time ago, before Foster Hewitt and Hockey Night in Canada, back
in the days of Aurele Joliat, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor and
Howie Morenz, NHL teams used to barnstorm through neighbouring towns
to drum up support.
of the early Ottawa Senators used to visit places like Almonte, Smiths
Falls, Richmond and even Cumberland Village, usually at the invitation
of the local Catholic priest.
of the local kids, seeing their heroes in person was almost as exciting
as seeing Santa Claus himself. The only comparison today, would be
if Daniel Alfredsson or Jason Spezza flew up to some remote community
in Northern Ontario and held an impromptu clinic.
Stock Theatre's latest production "All I Want For Christmas"
tells the story of one such visit. Set in Cumberland Village in 1927,
the play opens with Senators backup goalie Jimmy Quinn looking to
get his skates sharpened at the general store.
an accident had occurred on the railway line to Ottawa, and so he
decided to skate back to the city instead along the semi-frozen Ottawa
tells the local storekeeper Mary Chaisson about his plan, she insists
he spends the night with her family. The kids can hardly contain their
excitement. Mary's husband Robert, however, is less enthusiastic.
He grumbles in French, that Quinn is putting unrealistic dreams in
his son Simon's head.
play unfolds we find out that Mary is minding the village store for
a friend who became very ill and had to go to Toronto for treatment.
The friend helped Mary when she first moved to the village after marrying
Robert and taught her French, which explains why she is fluently bilingual.
It also explains the presence of Mary's Irish mother Clara who isn't
afraid to put her son-in-law in his place from time to time during
accepts the Chaisson's invitation and spends the night, much to the
delight of Simon and his older sister Anna. In return for the Chaisson's
generosity, he agrees to let the kids take some shots on him the next
effort to diffuse the situation between her husband and Jimmy, Mary
asks Robert to help her at the store. While the couple is moving stuff
around, the audience finds out why Robert is so upset over Jimmy's
presence and the effect it's having on his son.
turns out, he was invited to try out for the Ottawa Generals in 1902.
The Generals existed at the turn of the century before they were reformed
and renamed the Senators.
to try out for the team he skipped work and called in sick, but when
his boss found out he was fired. So he ended up with no hockey career
and no job. Mary then tells him that he shouldn't let his own experience
ruin his son's dreams. He agrees and decides to buy a pair of skates
that are hanging in the store window for the boy.
talks him into skating for the first time since he tried out for the
Generals. He sneaks onto the rink after Jimmy and the kids have already
left. While the audience doesn't actually see Robert skate, we find
out the consequences as news spreads that he had a terrible fall.
final scene Mary helps him into the house and into his chair at the
head of the table. After the rest of the family is filled in on what
happened, Robert gives Simon his surprise gift and Jimmy gives him
laid up with a bad leg, Jimmy decides to stick around for a couple
of days to help with the chores and invites them all to come see him
play at the Ottawa Auditorium.
which was held in the church at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum,
is the perfect example of community theatre at its best. The cast
are all from the east end and the play's co-author Louisa Haché
teaches at the Orléans Young Players Theatre School.
Laroque was outstanding as Robert Chaisson and Sydney Smith was fabulous
as Simon. It should be noted that the play was performed in both French
and English, following a tradition first begun with last year's holiday
production of "Christmas in Cumberland".
the French dialogue was delivered by Robert, while Sydney and Sylvie
Lapointe, who played Mary Chaisson, switched back and forth from French
to English effortlessly.
was played by Émélie Perron-Clow and the role of Jimmie
Quinn was shared by Nick Dubus and James MacDougall. The rest of the
cast included Sara Perron and Alexi-anne- Simard Lafond as Simon's
friends Michelle and Armand, and Susan Flemming who took a break from
playwriting to appear on stage for the first time in six years as
Mary's mother Clara.
all, it was a lovely, quaint production which ties in nicely with
celebrations marking the 125th anniversary of Ottawa's first hockey
team and the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships which are
being held in Ottawa later this month.
celebrating Ottawas rich hockey heritage is on display at the
City Hall Art Gallery with hundreds of artifacts provided by the City
of Ottawa Archives. The gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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